As winter approaches, it’s important for commercial property owners to prioritize snow and ice removal to ensure the safety of their premises. Neglecting this responsibility can pose serious risks to workers, customers and other third parties. To help prepare for the upcoming snow season, here are three practical steps to minimize these risks:
1. Create a Snow and Ice Removal Plan
Implementing an effective removal plan is essential in mitigating risks and liability exposures. A comprehensive strategy helps businesses stay consistent with how snow and ice removal is undertaken and provides documented instructions that can be communicated to workers and other involved parties.
Our Snow and Ice Removal Guide provides insights on creating a comprehensive plan, in addition to pre-storm preparation techniques, ice removal strategies and more.
2. Understand Your Legal Obligations
While property owners may take all necessary precautions, incidents and resulting claims can still occur, both third party and workers compensation. In defending claims that arise out of slip and falls on snow and ice, it is important to understand the duty of care and when the duty arises. In addition to having the responsibility as a commercial property owner, certain states have rules and laws as to when snow and ice must be removed from the property.
Many individual municipalities have their own codes, statutes and rules related to snow removal. However, several states recognize the duty to remove snow and ice with Snow in Progress doctrines. This doctrine states that a property owner does not have a duty to clear snow or ice during a snowstorm, but rather within a reasonable time after the storm ends. This chart outlines the states that follow a Snow in Progress doctrine.
3. Educate Employees on Winter Weather Safety
Train your employees on proper snow removal techniques and associated risks, especially if the task is completed in-house. Check out our resources on snow shoveling safety and tips to prevent winter weather-related slip and fall injuries to help facilitate these discussions.
The Conner Strong & Buckelew team is here to help ensure your company is prepared for the upcoming winter season. Should you have any questions, please contact your Conner Strong & Buckelew account representative.
Claim Advocate ‑ Real Estate Specialist
Eric C. Voight
Vice President, Risk Control Assistant Director